Transboundary Air Pollution

Aircraft Emissions

Air pollutants do not respect borders.  As the wind blows from place to place so do any pollutants that are in the air.  

From time to time dust from the Sahara desert is blown all the way to Ireland, in the same way, air pollutants from the UK and Europe are sometimes blown over this country. Pollutants released in Ireland can also be transported by the wind to other countries.

In an effort to tackle the problem of acid rain and smog formation, member states of the United Nations agreed a Protocol in Gothenburg in 1999 to reduce emissions of the gases that cause those problems.

The problem was also addressed by the EU who issued a Directive in 2001 restricting emissions from member states of four air pollutants namely; sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, volatile organic compounds and ammonia.

The graphs below show Ireland’s progress towards the National Emissions Ceiling (NEC) limits set by the EU for the four pollutants in question. For one of the four, SO2, Ireland has achieved and maintains levels below the limit, however the other three pollutants are not in compliance with 2030 reduction targets even with granted adjustments from the EU. 

Progress toward the ceiling of 65 kt for NOx in 2010 and beyond has improved largely as a result of continued decline in emissions from power stations, a reduced demand for clinker/cement, and the reduction of road transport emissions in the last few years. Projections for NOx emissions are in compliance with the 2020 reduction target of 6.8kt under the With Additional Measures scenario but are not in line for compliance with the 2030 reduction target of 3.7 kt (NOx emissions from agriculture are not included in the compliance assessment).

The same projections apply to NVOC levels while an increase in ammonia levels since 2017 are projected to be in excess of 9.6kt even with the With Additional Measures scenario. Such trends show a need for immediate implementation of abatement measures particularly within the agriculture sector.

The latest EPA reports on air emissions can be found here.

SO2 2020 Trend

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